Foreign skilled workers could simply create skills shortages

Foreign skilled workers brought to Australia in an attempt to fill skills shortages may actually be making the issue worse, according to the head of a political party which promotes a stable population for Australia.

Australian Stable Population Party president William Bourke said for every skilled worker that arrived in the country, another three members of their family came with them - in turn requiring the services of skilled workers and exacerbating the issue the migration scheme was meant to address.

Bringing in skilled workers from other countries has been a controversial topic throughout the past year.

Mr Bourke said although his party supported immigration, it supported it only to the extent that it matched emigration numbers.

He said only one in four people out of skilled migrants and their families could be classified as a skilled worker and that these families were highly likely to require the services of workers such as doctors, plumbers, dentists and electricians.

"They are actually demanding more skills than they are creating," Mr Bourke said.

"It's solving one skill shortage and creating three skill shortages.

"The Australian immigration program does exacerbate skills shortages."

Mr Bourke said the party did not want to stop skilled migrants bringing their family members but said something had to be done to make the skilled workers who come to Australia make a bigger impact.

"There should be a significant reduction of immigrants on skilled worker visas," he said.

"We should look at the skills with the highest need, that we can't meet with training of locals in the next five years."

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief Simon Bennison has previously said that finding local workers and even training locals to fill positions was not as simple as it sounded.

Mr Bourke, however, disagreed with his sentiment.

"That's a repetition of myths by big businesses to bring in cheaper workers," he said.

Mr Bourke said while foreign workers may not be paid at a lower rate, they were cheaper as companies did not have to put money into training them for extended periods.

He said most mining jobs should be trained locally but roles such as dentists which would take longer to retrain could be on a priority list, for which, foreign workers could be brought in at a rate equal to emigration.

Mr Bourke, who said he believed mainstream political parties were not concerned with prioritising the national intest, even suggested slowing the boom to create a more stable and resilient economy.

"Otherwise Perth will be a boom-bust town," Mr Bourke said.

"If you slow the boom, the minerals stay in the ground, you leave jobs for your children and grandchildren.

"The high dollar is devastating other export industries, making our economy a one trick pony; we need to be not reliant on mining."

Chief executive of the Migration Council Australia, Carla Wilshire said the national migration program had generous family provisions to ensure the country attracted the highest level of skilled workers.

"Our migration program is carefully calibrated to plug skills gaps that would otherwise prevent future investment and retard growth," she said.

"Australia's skilled migration program creates jobs and this benefits all Australians.

"Skilled migrants have a participation rate (a percent of those who work) of 95 per cent well above the Australian average.

"A high proportion of spouses of skilled workers are also skilled and make a valuable economic as well as social contribution."

Ms Wilshire said allowing the same amount of immigrants as emigrants would not be good for the Australian economy.

"With zero net migration, growth of the labour force would fall to zero by 2036," she said.

"Without immigration flows nearly one in three Australians would be over the age of 65 by 2050.

"Migration creates jobs and boosts GDP growth and the diversity it brings enhances productivity.

"We need to attract new citizens to manage our ageing profile and we need to attract skilled workers to ensure our economy has the means to grow.

"A dramatic reduction in migration would suffocate key drivers of economic growth."

This story Foreign skilled workers could simply create skills shortages first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.